New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Breaking down the defensive line and linebackers

Jerod Mayo warms up before facing the Saints. (Photo By Steven Senne)

Jerod Mayo warms up before facing the Saints.
(Photo By Steven Senne)

I will be breaking down the defensive line and linebackers for the New England Patriots.

Currently the defensive line, and linebackers for the Patriots are: James Anderson, Steve Beauharnais, Jake Bequette, Michael Buchanan, Jamie Collins, Dominique Easley, Darius Fleming, Marcus Forston, Cameron Gordon, Dont’a Hightower, Josh Hull, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Tommy Kelly, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Jerod Mayo, Taylor McCuller, Zach Moore, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith, L.T. Tuipulotu, Joe Vellano, Chris White, and Vince Wilfork. 

I will start with the defensive linemen for New England.

The Patriots haven’t had a feared or consistent pass rush in years, will this be the year? The biggest complaint I have about the Pats line is they haven’t been consistent at getting to the QB. The AFC Title Game against Denver was embarrassing how much time Peyton Manning had to throw. The Patriots haven’t had a J.J Watt type or Julius Peppers type pass rusher since their Super Bowl winning years.

Rob Ninkovich is the guy that gets key sacks in key situation, but isn’t consistent at pass rushing. He’s good, but he’s not in the elite pass rusher conversation. He’s not a pro bowler either. It could help him with depth behind him and being in a nice rotation this season.

Chandler Jones had a great year stat wise last season. He’s a good tackler, gets pressure on the QB, and will get at least a sack a game. The thing is, he’s not very consistent either. He did get better his second year in so it’ll be exciting to see how much more improved he’s in his 3rd year.

Jones should be better with more depth behind him and the freedom to be moved around which he excels at.

When Vince Wilfork went down it was devastating to the Pats defensive line and rush defense. The Pats struggled to really find a replacement for Wilfork especially after Tommy Kelly went down too.

After a crazy off-season for the nose tackle, he’s back with the Pats and healthy. He also will practice during training camp, which is huge for the Pats. Wilfork adds a great run stuffer and can get pressure on the QB. He also opens up more opportunity for Nink and Jones.

Tommy Kelly adds another big body guy on the line. He was having a good season until he went down for the season against the Bengals. When he and Wilfork is healthy, they helped the line out big time like last season before their injuries. They also have more depth too.

Dominique Easley is a guy I can’t wait to see on the field with the Patriots. He won’t be starting training camp practicing yet, but at some point I expect him to be out there. He’s a guy, if he stays healthy, and plays like he did at Florida, will be a beast for New England. He will increase the pass rush and play of the line. He has a motor, a won’t quit attitude, and a guy players will love.

The Pats added a veteran pass rusher in former Saints Will Smith.

He did not play in 2013, but in 2012 he had 58 tackles, and 6 sacks. We have no idea how Will Smith will look and if he will be anywhere close to his old form and provide anything for New England. He should bring a veteran presence to the defensive end spot and should add nice depth and rotation. In the situation and rotation, he will be with the Pats, it should help him big time. It might help him have a really productive year.

Onto the linebackers!

Dont’a Hightower put it all together toward the end of last season after a rollercoaster ride through most of the season. He was a much better player in the playoffs and seems to have finally hit his stride. He’s a good pass rushing linebacker when he gets the chance and good at stopping the run. He’s better off to not be in coverage, but was a bit better at it in the postseason.

Hightower is a guy with untapped potential and when he hits his stride he will be great. Maybe this is the season he puts it together for the entire season.

Jamie Collins broke out in a big way in the postseason last year. If he plays like that this season he will boost the linebacker position big time. Collins can do it all, rush the QB, stop the run, and cover.

Jerod Mayo the leader of the linebackers. He’s a do it all guy, and when he went down last season, no question hurt the defense. He’s coming back healthy and looks to pick up where he left off. Mayo is a pro bowl linebacker and I expect him to be next season.

James Anderson is a new addition the linebacking core and a veteran. He had 102 tackles last season with 4 sacks. He’s a solid pickup for New England and a good addition to the team.

There isn’t much depth behind those 4 but that will be a story to watch during training camp. We will see who else can add depth to that spot.

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